500 homeless children are treated to holiday party at South Coast Plaza

More than 500 Orange County children who don’t have permanent homes were treated to toys, treats and a holiday festival at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.

The 11th annual “Sharing the Spirit” holiday party Friday night was organized by the Festival of Children Foundation and the Happiness Project, two Orange County nonprofits.

After the mall closed to regular business, about 250 volunteers — including local students — greeted the children, who ranged from 5 to 16 years old, and accompanied them through the evening’s festivities, which ended at midnight.

The children, who were brought from several local shelters and agencies, posed for photos with Santa Claus, rode a reindeer carousel and participated in arts and crafts, interactive games and other activities.

Each child received a gift bag.

“The holidays become their brightest when we open our hearts to those less fortunate, most especially our community’s deserving children,” Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, founder and executive director of the Festival of Children Foundation, said in a statement.

The Costa Mesa-based organization supports the efforts of 480 children’s charities across the country. For more information about the foundation, visit

For more information about the Huntington Beach-based Happiness Project, visit

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi